UTAG strike and its effects on students

Feature Article of Thursday, 18 April 2013

Columnist: Naquentera, Joseph

University Teachers Association of Ghana popularly known as UTAG is an Association that incorporates all lectures, in the various public universities we have in the country. These Universities includes, University for Development Studies (UDS), University of Ghana (LEGON), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Mines And Technology (UMAT), Cape Coast University, University of Education (Winneba), Ghana Telecom University College etc. If one can recall, is about 2 to 3 weeks now since members of this Association went on strike following the inability of the government to pay them their arrears and so call market premium that has been pending for some time now.
According to the president of the Association Dr. Anthony Simmons, He reiterated that, his members have giving the President and the Fair and Wages Commission enough time for proper settlement but their effort proved futile and the only alternative was for them to go on strike. Nobody can dispute the lectures motions and sentiments about their welfare however; the time for this action was a disturbing factor to students and the Universities as a whole. Some students expressed their reservations that, some of their lectures did not even cover half their course outline before this strike.
Others in final year were also disturbed as to how they can contact their supervisors for the necessary corrections and supervision on their project works since they have little time to graduate. One serious issue as far as the strike is concerned was the academy calendar of this public University Known as University for Development Studies. Unlike the other universities whose calendar is twice the year (semester), this for mentioned University runs three times a year and hence called trimester and therefore, vacates earlier than the others all in preparation of their third trimester program, and is intriguing to note that even before the strike, most lectures of this University(UDS) had already finished their course outlines and students were preparing for their end of trimester examination but to their dismay, the strike had indirectly postponed the stipulated period for their examination . According to some students(UDS), they complain that the extension of the vacation date will affect them financially since most students had already exceeded their expenditure limit and now experiencing What they called WAHALA WEEK.( week of no-money on students in campus)
On the part of the various University administrations, also have a share in the strike effects, because, this year is the only year, where there have been two batches completing from the SHS resulting in a vast number of SHS graduates, so one can image the pressure that will be mounted upon these Universities for the next 2013/2014 admission exercise. University administrators will have a limited time to re-plan towards the intake of new students, hence resulting in discrepancies in admissions.
Strike is a one of the legitimate rights for all workers and therefore must be respected by everyone not even the president is exempted, however One must not think of personal aggrandizement when it comes to such issues but One ought to examine the victims at stake, the time and even the reconciling packages from the government and when these are considered before pursuing on strikes, it will at least curtail the resulting effects on victims.
Government and other stake holders like the Fair Wages and salaries Commission must also be on their toes to prevent these uncertainties,there is a saying that It is more economical to prevent than to solve.